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EXPLAINED: Where in France do you have to wear a face mask?

The French government ended the national rule making mask-wearing compulsory in the street in June, but faced with growing case numbers linked to the delta variant of Covid, many local authorities have imposed their own rules on masks in outdoor spaces.

EXPLAINED: Where in France do you have to wear a face mask?
Health Minister Olivier Véran and Nice mayor Christian Estrosi Photo: Valery Hache | AFP

Masks were made mandatory in outdoor spaces across the country at the peak of the pandemic, but this rule was eased across most of the country in the middle of June, as public health powers were handed back to local authorities.

They are still compulsory in many indoor public spaces such as shops and public transport and in some outdoor areas such as market – find a full list HERE.

From August 9th, masks are no longer compulsory in venues covered by the health passport such as cafés and cinemas, although they are still obligatory on all forms of public transport.

However, some local authorities may introduce their own rules on this. Likewise, private businesses such as shops and cafés are within their rights to require customers to wear a mask.

But many areas including Nice, Toulouse and Bordeaux have announced a local rule on outdoor masks – particularly in areas popular with tourists, where crowds are expected to be busiest during the summer holiday period.

France’s coastal areas are currently seeing big increases in cases and many authorities in these areas have introduced rules that cover the whole département.

The exact rules vary from town to town, so if you are set to travel it’s best to check with the local authority where you are going.

Masks are required in the following towns and cities:

Nice: Masks are required in certain areas of the city, notably those popular with tourists. Mayor Christian Estrosi has also instructed that medical teams offer vaccinations to people at their place of work, and was planning to introduce a ‘vaccine confidence’ label for shop owners whose staff are inoculated. The goal, he said in a recent interview with Europe 1, is to have 80 percent of the population of Nice vaccinated by the end of August.

Bordeaux: Masks are mandatory in certain areas of the city between 12 noon and 7pm daily.

Toulouse: Wearing a mask is a requirement in the centre of the city from 10am to midnight every Saturday.

Lille: Pedestrian areas of the city are covered by a mask mandate.

Montpellier: Certain parts of the city still require residents and visitors to wear masks from 2pm to 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Similar rules are in place in Béziers, while masks are mandated outdoors between 6pm and 11pm in the Hérault resorts of Cap d’Agde, Palavas-les-Flots and La Grande-Motte.

Mont-de-Marsan: Face masks are required outdoors in parts of the Landes’ city at weekends. They are also mandatory in the seaside resort of Biscarosse throughout the week.

Dax: When the mask requirement was lifted nationally in June, Dax – along with Hossegor, Moliets-et-Maa and Léon – decided to extend its local requirement until July 6th. That mandate has since been extended.

Saint-Malo: anyone inside the city walls and on the ramparts must wear a mask outdoors between the hours of 11am and 9pm, a recent decree has stipulated.

Le Touquet: Wearing a mask outside is the rule in several streets in the Pas-de-Calais’ town. 

As well as individual towns, an increasing number of préfectures are introducing rules that cover entire départements.

Pyrénées-Orientale: Throughout the south west département on the Spanish border, masks are required in all public spaces except beaches. This edit runs until August 2nd but could be extended. Local authorities have also ordered the 11pm closure of all bars and restaurants as cases soar in the area.

Vendée: The west coast département has made masks compulsory in the street in 22 municipalities including the popular resorts of Les Sables d’Olonne and L’Ile d’Yeu.

Hérault: Masks are compulsory in outdoor areas throughout the département, with only beaches, bathing areas and ‘large natural spaces’ exempt.

Meurthe-et-Moselle: the eastern French département probably has the most complicated rules so far – masks are compulsory in the street of all towns that have a population of more than 5,000 inhabitants and an incidence rate of more than 50 cases per 100,000 people. At present levels, this would cover most of the larger towns within the département.

Var: The département on the south coast has re-introduced mandatory mask-wearing in 58 towns and villages, including Toulon and Saint-Tropez. This does not apply to ‘natural spaces’ like forests and beaches, or to people who are exercising. A full list of the communes affected is available here.

Haute-Corse: in the northern half of Corsica, masks are required in outdoor areas in the towns of Bastia, Corte, Calvi, Ile-Rousse, Calenzana, Saint-Florent and the Balagne area.

Essonne – the département in the greater Paris area requires a mask at all outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.

Bas-Rhin – masks are required throughout the département for all outdoor markets, demonstrations or large gatherings in public places.

Charente-Maritime – the outdoor mask rule has been instated in the 45 largest communes, which includes La Rochelle and the popular tourist destination of Île-de-Ré.

Gironde – outdoor masks are required in; Bordeaux city centre, Libourne, Saint-Emilion and parts of Soulac-sur-Mer and La Teste-de-Buch.

Alpes-Maritimes – masks are compulsory outdoors throughout the département, with the exception of beaches, forests and national parks.

Ariège – outdoor masks are required in 19 towns and villages until August 15th.

Aude – the préfecture has introduced a mask requirement for busy areas such as the Cité de Carcassonne, as well as outdoor markets, queues and any situation where social distancing is not possible.

Bouches-du-Rhône – masks are required in outdoor markets, funfairs, and in the areas surrounding shopping centres, places of worship, nurseries and schools.

Loire-Atlantique – masks are required in La Baule and in 15 communes of the Presqu’île de Guérande.

Nord – locals and tourists in nine coastal towns must wear a mask until August 2nd, including Dunkirk.

Pyrénées-Atlantiques – several towns along the Basque coast require masks in the street between 9am and 9pm until August 31st, including Bayonne and Biarritz.

Tarn-et-Garonne – masks are obligatory in three towns – Montauban, Moissac and Castelsarrasin – from 8am to 12am, until August 7th.

Savoie – the prefect of the Savoie département in south-eastern France announce on July 30th that outdoor mask rules would return in areas where lots of people pass. This includes the town centres in Chambéry, Albertville, and Aix-les-Bains, as well as “outdoor events of more than 10 people” such as markets and queues outside stadiums and concert venues.

Finistère – the départmeent in Brittany has reintroduced mandatory masks outdoors in 22 of its larger and more touristic communes, including Brest and Quimper. The new rules do not apply to beaches or quieter areas, and will last until August 31st.

Morbihan – also in Brittany, the Morbihan département requires masks in all towns and villages of more than 5,000 inhabitants.

Haute-Savoie – the Alpine département has equally introduced mask rules for 85 towns of more than 5,000 people, including Annecy, until August 31st.

The situation with masks may change on a local level, so check with the local préfecture for the most recent information.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.